Magistrates in the country are divided over the ongoing strike as some are still dispensing justice whilst others have completely stopped the wheels of justice.
A snap survey shows Blantyre, Lilongwe and other districts have shut down court rooms at the start of the strike on Wednesday.
However, Mzuzu, Zomba, Nkhatabay and Mangochi magistrates’ courts were still open as magistrates said they were waiting for official communication.
However, Judiciary spokesperson Mlenga Mvula said all magistrates court rooms were supposed to be shut down.
“The magistrates want their house allowances and arrears. Communication we have is that most court rooms have been shut down,” he said.
Ministry of Finance spokesperson Alfred Kutengule said the government has advised the Judiciary to fund the house allowances and arrears from their 2016/17 national budget vote.
“They budgeted for that and they should get the money,” said Kutengule.
Mvula however said that although parliament approved the salary increases, according to the law, the Finance minister has to endorse the increment before implementing the payments.
According to Mvula, government, through the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, negotiated with the judicial officers to allow it pay them housing allowance arrears from July 2016 and not from 2012 considering the current financial challenges, but the ministry was yet to act on its promises.
He said: “All these years, we have been negotiating with our counterparts in the Executive arm of government to implement the housing allowances which were duly approved by Parliament in 2012, but all they are doing is playing hide and seek games.
“Two weeks ago, the Conditions of Service Committee went to Lilongwe to meet representatives from the Ministry of Finance where they said they were waiting for the Minister of Finance to approve a virement which we agreed upon. We gave them a seven-day ultimatum to implement that but to no avail.”
Spokesperson for Magistrates Association of Malawi in the south, Patrick Mwamali said the magistrates would only open court rooms after Treasury writes the Judiciary to use the budget and start an exact date when the allowances and arrears would be paid out.
The supports staff have also joined the strike. They include court reporters that record all court proceedings, stenographers who transcribe them, court clerks, secretaries and guards.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :